Evangeline Holland

Sweeping Drama ⚜ Larger than Life History ⚜ Exquisite Romance ⚜ Diverse Perspectives
September 19th, 2016 by Evangeline Holland

Books, Prose, and Conversation

Archibald J. Motley Jr., Black Belt, 1934

Archibald J. Motley Jr., Black Belt, 1934. Oil on canvas, 33 x 40.5 inches (83.8 x 102.9 cm). Collection of the Hampton University Museum, Hampton, Virginia. © Valerie Gerrard Browne.

One thing I’ve been pondering as I work on two different MSS is the hows and whys of social change, and how people of the day responded to them. Looking back at the Harlem Renaissance, or even the rise of the Arts and Crafts movement in Edwardian England, we can easily pinpoint this style happened in this year because of XYZ. We are able to say “Important Writer/Artist was saying this to another VIP here after ABC.” It’s all very self-conscious of the past and whose work we consider influential and game-changing, but what was the every day life like for the people in the thick of modernism?

I finished Everybody Behaves Badly by Lesley M.M. Blume last week, and was left incredibly curious about Hemingway’s belief that he was going to change literature with his first novel. Was his assurance more than simple arrogance and self-congratulation? Was 1920s society really clamoring for something new and different? What if his book bombed? (There are plenty of now-forgotten modernist novels published at the same time)

Since my primary WIP is set during the Harlem Renaissance, I’m reading copious amounts of poetry, essays, short stories, fiction, plays, and artwork produced by the leading figures of the New Negro Movement, not simply for research but to understand the conversations between their creators. I am also listening to blues and early jazz, and reading newspapers to find connections between the creatives and the common people in Harlem since, after all, the movement was dominated by the educated, somewhat financially secure Harlemites.

But in general, I’m trying to figure out the actual conversations of my characters as they move through the 1920s. Would it be pretentious, precious, and self-conscious for them to espouse what was going on right now? (And the swiftness with which new ideas are exchanged in 2016 is something to consider when reflecting on the speed of the past) Would over-awareness seem like info-dump? Would holding too much back make the characters formless and opaque?

I’m still working on this.

September 12th, 2016 by Evangeline Holland

If A Tree Falls…

After placing my author social media accounts on hiatus, I realized that Twitter in particular had become an integral part of my life. So I opened up a new account, placed it on private, and sent tweets essentially to myself. At first I was uneasy: isn’t the point of social media to be social? To find your tribe online through mutual interests (usually discovered via hashtags)? And as an author, you should be out there, mingling with your peers and potential readers!

My unease quickly disappeared when I logged back into my normal Twitter account. The million and a half conversations, the links, the hashtags, the memes, the gifs, all zooming across my screen, felt like noise. The wrenching, shrieking violins from the shower scene in Psycho started playing in my head. Catching tail ends of twitter convos suddenly exacerbated FOMO syndrome, and I had to stop myself before I started down the path of clicking profiles and hashtags in order to keep up with what everyone was discussing today.

I’ve grown very fond of performance studies over the past year. Identity formations and role playing based on a standard repertoire for how X people are supposed to behave fascinates me, likely because I’ve always felt out of sync with how I am supposed to perform based on the intersections of my physical appearance, my ethnicity, my gender, my socioeconomic background, my religion, my education/profession, and my age. Having been a “member” of Romancelandia for a little over ten years, I am well versed in the performance of being A Romance Author (and A Romance Reader) when Online. Despite the shift towards digital spaces as a primary place for connection, the performance remains the same: you exchange enough social currency to build a new link in your network, thereby increasing your chances for success (e.g. a community of friends to share your book covers, new releases, etc).

But what happens when you don’t perform?

What if I never tweeted, Facebooked, or Instagramed ever again?

Is social currency like actual currency: it accumulates and collects interest when you don’t touch it? Or is it like the stock market: it rises and falls based upon exterior forces and demands (aka other people)?

If an author removes themselves from the flow of conversation, do they continue to exist to the community?

September 1st, 2016 by Evangeline Holland

Shutting Doors, Closing Up Shop (Sort Of)

One of my vices is ambition. I see things I want to accomplish and I go after them–even if I want to accomplish five or six things at once. Then I’m left juggling my overbooked and overlapped life, until something has to give–which is usually my mental well being!

I managed to keep the balls of school, life, writing, leisure and procrastination in the air pretty well over the past two years, but when my summer internship took me out of my usual physical location, while also forcing me out of my usual virtual locations for lack of time, I was surprised by how relieving it was to unplug from my habits. And a whole ‘nother side of me blossomed with the opportunity to “talk shop” with my academic/public historian hat on. I also shed a lot of burdens over my writing I didn’t realize I’d been carrying.

But anyways, I am placing my author social media stuff on hiatus. If you really care that much, email me and I’ll send a link to my real life/professional social media accounts.

Until then, ciao.

Hopefully next time I surface, it’s to wave my next book deal and/or my doctorate degree all over the place, LOL.